Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in french (63)


The Extraordinary Evolution of a Couturier

Today I started off writing quite a serious dissertation about the frivolous (or not) obsession with fashion today’s society has… but then I realised that was hardly a fair introduction to a master of lightness and joie de vivre.

Yves Saint Laurent was a man who loved to create beautiful garments, and you will see this nowhere so well as in the two documentaries Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times, and 5 Avenue Marceau.

The first biographical film is a capsule of his career, beginning with his astonishing debut and following his meteoric rise to becoming one of last century’s most influential couturiers. It is not just a film about fashion, but really a historical document, featuring extensive interviews with the designer.

But for me, 5 Avenue Marceau was truly an ode to the beauty of fashion and the passion that goes into its creation. It opens with the intimate scene of a fitting with Catherine Deneuve which I found fascinating (including an amusing conversation about the disgusting habits of foxes and murder most fowl); but what comes after is even more so.

To say that the film is a behind-the-scene glimpse of the creation of Saint Laurent’s final spring line is to belittle the intimate view we are privileged to. We are witness to an extraordinary evolution, from fashion sketch to finished garment. Saint Laurent collaborates closely with his staff, whom we see cutting and sewing, before fitting models whom they bring before ‘monsieur’ to parade the toiles to be critiqued; for final fabrics and accessories to be chosen. He is always gracious whether offering fairly considered criticism or unstinting praise, and it is obvious how highly his staff respect him. I only wish there had been more footage of the final runway show.

Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times said, “A timeless portrait of an artist at work… A celebration of human endeavour.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Buy the DVD here.


Qui a vu Coco dans l'Trocadéro

A film about a fashion designer? I’m there! … So the weekend saw me at a cinema, and I saw Coco Avant Chanel.

I didn’t know a great deal about Chanel’s history prior to her fame as a fashion designer, so the film was interesting as a biography of her early years. Of course, the filmmakers play fast and loose with the facts as they all tend to, but certainly Chanel did herself, so that is quite apt. But it’s quite true that she earned her nickname from a song that she sang as a cabaret dancer, about a little dog called Coco.

Although there is not a great deal depicted of her evolution as a fashion designer throughout the film, there are many lovely touches that hint at the revolutionary ideas Chanel was forming about the female figure. But the small glimpses one has of her atelier; of Coco cutting fabric and fashioning hats; of models wandering around in magical garments… they all left me hungry for more!

Fortunately there is another film about Chanel due for release at the end of the year, I read in an interesting article on the Telegraph’s website.

In the meantime, go and enjoy the beautiful cinematography and art direction (not to mention the costumes), and the charm of Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel.


Bad-hair saviours

I hardly need state that everyone has a bad hair-day every now and then.

Traditionally, this implies unruly, recalcitrant hair that defies every attempt to control its appearance whilst unfettered.

In my case the problem is that my hair is too fine and flyaway. And because it is so long, I have a lot of new growth that often creates an unsightly halo when I am after a smooth sleek finish.

Sometimes it is simply a case of bad-morning, not bad-hair, when I have zero minutes to spend on its appearance. This is when my hair accessories really come into their own, and the importance of quality cannot be overstated.

It [the ibis clip] has never let me down – and my hair has never tumbled down unless I fully intended it to.

Years ago I discovered the joys of French hairclips over Chinese imports. There is simply no comparison. The springs in the Paris Mode clips are steel, and they do not snap open at some ill-timed moment. Ditto the ibis clip. It has never let me down – and my hair has never tumbled down unless I fully intended it to.

And the tortoise-shelled hair comb is virtually indestructible, unlike the inferior Lady Jayne version I owned prior to my epiphany. That quickly became gap-toothed as an old lady rocking back in a nursing home. I can bundle my damp hair up in a French roll and secure it with the comb so easily, and when I shake it out – like an advertisement – what a riot of curls!

Of course, there is a pretty price to pay for quality, and it may make you gasp at first. But it will definitely be worth it.

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